Austin and Houston Oilfield Overtime Lawyer
Oil and Gas Industry Overtime Violations
Oil and gas workers have long, hard hours, but employers often unfairly deny them the overtime pay they are owed. A common misconception is that a worker who receives a salary, is paid a day rate, or is classified as an independent contractor is not entitled to overtime pay. Many 1099 employees and other workers, including field service engineers and technicians, tool pushers, and mud engineers should receive overtime pay but don’t.
Employers in the oil and gas industry often misclassify workers as exempt employees when they are not. If your employer denies you the overtime wages you are owed, an Austin and Houston overtime lawyer at the Leichter Law Firm can help you receive the money you deserve.
Our team of experienced lawyers at Leichter Law Firm is dedicated to ensuring that oilfield workers receive the pay they deserve for their hard work. Over the years, we have been successful in helping workers across a wide variety of occupations—including oil and gas company workers—collect the wages to which they are entitled. We understand that hard work deserves compensation and we will help you secure the compensation you deserve.
If your employer withholds your wages and refuses to pay you overtime, contact the highly qualified attorneys at Leichter Law Firm today. Call (512) 495-9995 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Overtime
While many oil and gas companies try to justify withholding overtime pay, these actions are wrongful and violate the law. Employers in the oil and gas industry are legally required to pay oilfield workers overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA).
The FLSA is a piece of federal legislation passed to protect workers from being exploited and denied their wages, including overtime pay. The Act mandates that employees must be paid no less than minimum wage for hours worked and that they must be paid a premium for overtime hours worked.
Although not all employers are required to adhere to the mandates of the FLSA, many enterprises involved in the oil and gas industry must adhere to this federal labor law. The FLSA applies to employers with at least two employees engaged in commerce and an annual volume of sales or business done of at least $500,000. It also applies to hospitals, schools, and government agencies.
Based on these requirements it is safe to say that most oil and gas companies are obligated to follow the mandates of the FLSA. Most companies will employ more than two people engaged in commerce and annually conduct business of $500,000 or more.
While not all employees are entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA, it is well established that oilfield workers are protected. If an employer within the oil and gas industry fails to pay their employees properly, they violate federal law and can be held accountable.
Oilfield Overtime Under the FLSA
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, overtime hours are those worked over 40 hours in a workweek. The FLSA assumes that oilfield workers are entitled to overtime wages for all hours worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek at a rate of 1.5 times the employee’s regular pay.
While different workweeks may be established for different workers and do not necessarily have to coincide with a calendar week, a company’s workweek must be a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours (i.e., seven consecutive 24-hour days). Averaging hours over two or more weeks is prohibited. The Act does not mandate overtime pay for weekends, holidays, or regular rest days unless the hours worked are overtime.
An employer within the oil and gas industry can get away with not paying overtime by proving that an employee is within a very narrow range of personnel not covered by the FLSA. As discussed above, oilfield workers repeatedly are covered by the FLSA. Therefore, many oilfield workers are entitled to overtime compensation.
Do You Get Overtime on an Oil Rig?
According to federal employment law, oil and gas company employers must pay employees overtime if they are non-exempt. Unfortunately, many employers in this field try to get around this requirement by misclassifying their employees as independent contractors. They may even claim that their salaried workers are not owed overtime.
Worker misclassification is illegal, although many employers still use this shady tactic. If you are an oil or gas worker with unpaid overtime wages, we recommend speaking with our experienced attorneys. During your free consultation with us, we will ensure that you understand your rights as an employee and that your unpaid wages are recovered.
How Does Overtime Work in the Oilfield?
For an oilfield worker, overtime works the same way as for other non-exempt employees. For every hour worked over 40 hours in a single workweek, the worker is entitled to overtime pay. The overtime rate must be at least 1.5 times their normal pay rate.
Ways Oilfield Companies Violate Oilfield Overtime Laws
Workers should know what money they deserve and require employers to compensate their work fully. Meet with a qualified attorney at Leichter Law Firm to learn if your employer pays you less than you deserve.
Employers often use illegal means to deny their workers the additional overtime pay they earned. Common violations include the following.
Improperly labeling a worker as an independent contractor when they are not is illegal, and it could land an employer in big trouble with the IRS. Agreeing to contract work does not necessarily mean you are not entitled to receiving overtime pay. A contract or salaried employee may still be entitled to paid overtime.
Improperly applying overtime exemptions is also illegal under federal overtime law. The title of “supervisor” or “manager” does not mean you are not entitled to overtime pay. Receiving a salary, rather than an hourly wage, does not automatically exempt you from overtime pay. Salaried employees may be able to recover unpaid overtime by working with an experienced labor and employment lawyer.
Failing to pay for time spent working off the clock, before or after scheduled work shifts is illegal. Employers generally must pay workers for travel time between job sites, meetings, prep time before jobs, and paperwork done at home.
Paying flat rates, day rates, or shift rates is not illegal. However, using these payment methods to avoid paying overtime is illegal. Instead of considering how many hours the employee worked, many employers try to make their employees exempt from overtime in this way. Employers must still pay overtime even if their workers are paid a day rate.
How to File an Unpaid Overtime Claim as an Oil and Gas Worker
If an employer is found to have violated the FLSA by not properly paying their oilfield workers, the employees may be entitled to significant compensation. Oilfield employee recourse often exists in the form of overtime claims submitted to a government agency or in the form of a lawsuit.
An employer may try to get out of compensating an oilfield worker by claiming they do not have the worker’s pay records. However, federal law requires that employers must keep certain accurate records for at least three years, including the following.
- Time and day when the employee’s work week began
- Hours worked each day
- Total hours worked each workweek
- Method of payment, such as an hourly rate or a day rate
- Regular hourly pay rate
- Total daily or weekly straight-time (regular) earnings
- Total overtime earnings in a workweek
- All changes to the employee’s wages
- Date of payment and total wages for the pay period
- Payroll records
Additionally, employers of oilfield workers and non-exempt employees must keep a record of how wage computations are determined for up to two years
If an employer fails to keep proper records and is found in violation of the FLSA, an employee may still get back pay based on the worker’s records of pay and hours worked.
There are many factors to consider when deciding to file a claim against an employer for overtime wages, and that is why it is best to consult with a knowledgeable attorney from the Leichter Law Firm.
What Compensation Can You Receive in Your Oilfield Overtime Claim?
In a successful unpaid overtime claim, you are entitled to certain compensation for your employer’s actions. These claims can be filed in court, with the Department of Labor, or with another related entity in the form of individual lawsuits or class actions.
If your employer wrongfully denied your overtime pay, you may be entitled to the following damages.
- Up to two or three years of back pay
- Liquidated damages
- Attorneys’ fees and court fees
Contact a Texas Oilfield Overtime Lawyer with Leichter Law Today
If you are an oil or gas worker, field service technician, or field worker who has worked more than 40 hours per week without additional compensation, speak with a qualified overtime attorney today. Our board-certified labor law specialist can help you determine the money your employer owes you.
Don’t let your employer continue getting away with denying you the money you have worked so hard to earn. Call an experienced Texas overtime lawyer at Leichter Law Firm if you are concerned that your employer has not compensated you properly. Call (512) 495-9995 to schedule your free, confidential consultation about your case.